Really- In the near future, when we have wearable computers strapped to our wrists and connected devices around our home?—-we will all still have to TEXT- Ugh…

He and Dick Tracy had it right… “I think talking into your wrist is more natural than talking into a huge slab of black glass! Especially if you have a tiny bluetooth earpiece in.”

…so talk!

If we are speculating on the most efficient interaction he could have with his wife, why couldn’t he have just whispered a short sweet nothing into his wrist via a voice clip…

“Hey love, what would you like for dinner tonight: Sushi::Mexican::French”

…to which she could reply, at her convenience, by opening the connected fridge door and pronouncing “At Jason: Could you grab me some Sushi please darling?”

Now that sounds like the future. No auto-correct. No walking along the street with your head down bumping into others. No long calls with our other halves about everything else they did today…

We could actually return to using the primary communication device we all have installed: our voices.

Killer Apps.

Again, as Jason quite rightly states, one thing is for certain — we are 2 to 5 years out from understanding how we will even engage with this technology before we can determine what might be the Killer App.

I don’t believe it will involve being able to constantly monitor my heart rate either - networked devices are a lovely convenience and the cost of building Bluetooth, NFC, RFID, WiFi, etc. into new devices is cheaper - but the effect on everyday lives is negligible. If my bathroom scale tells my smartphone how much I weigh, that is handy but hardly life-changing.

Like mobile, IoT and wearables will become indispensable to us, in ways which we can’t even conceive right now; they represent a whole new way of blending the physical and digital worlds - people and companies will have to adapt to that.

And this is all, of course, much bigger than a Gold Apple DumbWatch - the key to making technology pervasive and interaction frictionless is to not have interfaces at all.

Thanks to the collision of two ideas - ‘Wearable Technology’ and ‘the Internet of Things’, the next big thing is not going to based around a keyboard, unlike desktop search and mobile messaging. I also don’t believe we will be swiping our way through instructions and conversations like Tom Cruise in Minority Report - my bet is that we will go back to something entirely more instinctive to us…

And that is where I’m placing a few of my bets this year.

Look who’s talking…

Walk down the streets in China and you see people speaking into their phones, sending voice rather than text messages. Surely porting this capability to a watch makes sense - as it is easier to send a voice message from a device already on the wrist than pulling out a phone? China is a big market for Apple, too.

Wearables enable the vision of interweaving technology into the everyday life, merging us further from the Real World into Virtual Worlds - unlocking The Internet of Things where everyone and everything can communicate via ubiquitous computing.

I want to have the ability to continue my conversation via my coat when I’m skiing; my steering wheel whilst driving (or being driven by then assumably…) and my desk when I’m working.

Listen up!

Voice, of course, has other benefits over text:

  • Voices can be authenticated through natural conversation. It’s legally submissible, as demonstrates intent… If I say “Yes, buy it”, I can’t deny it…- this also may reduce the trolls on wearables.
  • Voice Biometrics can authenticate customers through natural voice patterns, not robotic PINs, passwords or questions. It’s a level up in security. It’s a brand new user experience. By giving them the freedom to speak, you let the customers be themselves.
  • Recent breakthroughs in speech recognition and artificial intelligence will soon make gadgets dramatically better at understanding people. This new breed of highly competent machines, which are able to not only hear us but to understand context and nuance, is just a year or two away.
  • Indeed, thanks to an accelerated pace of innovation, the Google apps on your phone right now can correctly guess 12 out of every 13 words. Pretty soon, we’re going to live in a world where devices don’t have keyboards.
  • Voice is already also becoming translatable, in real time. Soon you will be able to conduct business with your far eastern colleagues communicating with ease. Then, we can all be on the same network - a truly multicultural experience.
  • Along with the trolls, we can kill off the emoticons too. And get back to genuine expressions and emotions. Sarcasm is a lost skill amongst Gen Y. You can’t get angst, fear or bewilderment from a tweet or text. Cries and laughter will unlock the silence of the twittersphere. Older generations can engage in more typical conversations, too.

Put your money where your mouth is…

Although Apple haven’t made the same level of investment in neural network algorithms that Samsung and Microsoft have, there is some cool tech imminent…

  • There is a company called Orion, who will soon start shipping the Onyx; a wearable personal communication device that lets a group of people talk with just the press of a button - again, just like the personal communicators seen in sci-fi shows like Star Trek or the comic series Dick Tracy
  • Amazon’s Echo has just been given an update on it’s voice capability, so you no longer have to reach for your phone just to skip tracks - it’s only going to get more adept
  • The likes Voxer and Bubbly have some 100 million users between them using push-to-talk on mobile devices.

Not all talk.

The other benefit of voice based interactions is that we can use another of our god given senses to consume it. And now that we are all happy to walk around with huge headphones on our heads again - wouldn’t you rather hear the news headlines without scrolling through endless tweets? Listen to the price of a stock repeated on request?

Regardless, gestures and voice will be the main components in developing an augmented extension of ourselves and our own personalized interface. ‘Search, call, direct, etc.’ will be employed by recognized human actions and sound through wearable devices.

Who knows what the future holds, or what the killer app will be - but I’m working with some clever folks on some exciting stuff and if voice plays a part - I will be very well placed.

If you want to know more, get in touch with me @jamesolden

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